Construction Stop of "High Speed 2" in Northern England: Austrian Companies Affected

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: October 5, 2023; 22:17 ♦ (Vindobona)

The surprising halt to the construction of part of the major British project, the "High Speed 2" (HS2) high-speed rail line, is causing discussion among the companies involved. Austrian companies in particular, which are involved in the rail project worth billions, could be affected.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced the halt to construction of the second part (shown here in red as Phase 2) of the "High Speed 2" high-speed rail line. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons; Cnbrb, CC BY-SA 3.0 (

The cost-cutting measure announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, which envisages completing only the section of the line between London and Birmingham and cutting the originally planned section as far as Manchester, is affecting several companies in the Alpine Republic, as reported by ORF. These include construction groups STRABAG and Porr, as well as Voestalpine Railway Systems. The latter received its largest-ever order from the UK for the HS2 project, which includes a rail infrastructure delivery worth 237 million euros.

STRABAG, Austria's largest construction group, which is involved in the project as part of a three-strong consortium, had already been awarded contracts worth at least £3.3 billion (€3.8 billion) in the summer of 2017. In light of Sunak's decision, the company said it expected "no major changes to the order volume" as the section between London and Birmingham is scheduled for full completion, ORF reported.

Porr, which is to supply more than 450 kilometers of slab track for the rail project between 2021 and 2029, has not yet commented on the potential impact of the construction halt, Kleine Zeitung reported.

Voestalpine confirmed the British government's consideration of the project adjustment but stated that possible effects on its order could not be assessed at present, as reported by Kleine Zeitung.

The British prime minister's decision was criticized not only domestically but also internationally, as reported. Rain Newton-Smith, head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), called the decision "a disgraceful signal for the UK's status as a global investment destination." There are fears that this could damage the country's international reputation as a reliable partner.

HS2 was considered one of the most important infrastructure projects for northern England. It was originally scheduled to open in 2026, but by 2019 the estimated cost had already risen from around £33 billion to £71 billion. The latest decision will reduce the HS2 network almost to the link between London and Birmingham. The exact consequences of the construction stop for the companies involved and the UK's infrastructure remain to be seen.